Rigor Is NOT a Four-Letter Word: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rigor Is NOT a Four-Letter Word

2nd Edition

By Barbara R. Blackburn

© 2013 – Routledge

208 pages

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Learn how to increase rigor so that all students can reach higher levels of learning! With this new edition of a teacher-tested best seller, you get practical ideas for increasing text complexity, providing scaffolding during reading instruction, creating open-ended projects, and much more. The enhanced second edition provides important connections to the Common Core State Standards, plus new sections on problem-based learning, implementation of high standards, and working with special-needs students.

Table of Contents


1: The Case for Rigor


The Call for Rigor

New Calls for Rigor

Seven Myths About Rigor

Does This Really Matter?

Students' Perceptions of Rigor


2: Digging Into Rigor

Expecting Students to Learn at High Levels

Levels of Questioning

Differentiated Instruction and Multiple Intelligences

Supporting Each Student to Learn at High Levels

Rigor Does Not Stand Alone


3: Raise the Level of Content

Valuing Depth

Increasing Text Difficulty

Creating Connections

Reviewing, Not Repeating

Planning for Implementation of High Standards


4: Increase Complexity

Complexity Through Problem-Based Learning

Complexity in Writing

Complexity as You Assess Prior Knowledge

Complexity With Vocabulary

Complexity in Review Games

5: Give Appropriate Support and Guidance

Scaffolding During Reading Activities

Modeling Expected Instructional Behaviors

Providing Clear Expectations

Chunking Big Tasks

Presenting Multiple Opportunities to Learn

Working With Students With Special Needs


6: Open Your Focus

Open-Ended Questioning

Open-Ended Research

Open-Ended Vocabulary Instruction

Open-Ended Projects

Open-Ended Choices for Students


7: Raise Expectations

Expecting the Best

Expanding the Vision

Ownership of Learning

Tracking Progress

Creating a Culture


8: Assessment and Grading

Assessment That Impacts Learning

Grading Practices

Learning Is Not Optional


9: Collaboration and Professional Learning Communities

Professional Learning Communities

Activities for Professional Learning Communities

10: Opportunities and Challenges

Where Should I Begin?

How Do I Handle Resistance from Students?

What Do I Say to Parents?

How Should I Respond When Other Teachers Aren't Supportive?

How Can I Gauge Progress?


Appendix: Correlations to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, Grades K-12


Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Curricula
EDUCATION / Learning Styles

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